Sea-borne terror, piracy threat to security: PM

‘Countries must respect and ensure freedom of navigation’

Visakhapatnam: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday flagged the threat of sea-borne terror and piracy as two key challenges to maritime security even as he pitched for respecting freedom of navigation against the backdrop of South China sea dispute.
In an apparent reference to the audacious 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, Modi said, the threat of sea-borne terror, of which India has been a direct victim, continues to endanger regional and global peace and stability.
He said piracy, too, remains a strong challenge against the backdrop of Somali pirates targeting merchant vessels, including those of India.
Addressing the valedictory function of International Fleet Review, the Prime Minister also made a veiled reference to the South China Sea dispute, saying countries must ‘respect and ensure freedom of navigation and cooperate not compete’.
He said after hosting the 3rd India-Africa Summit and the India-Pacific Island Cooperation, the country would now host the first-ever global maritime summit in April.
Referring to his government’s ambitious Make in India initiative, Modi said 37 of the Indian warships participating the Fleet Review were made in India and their numbers will surely rise.
He said the nation’s ability to reap economic benefits from the oceans rested on our capacity to respond to the challenges in the maritime domain.
“The threat of natural disasters like tsunami and cyclones is ever present. Man-made problems such as oil spills, climate change continue to risk the stability of the maritime domain,” the Prime Minister said.
He said a peaceful and stable maritime environment is critical for regional and global security. “It is also must to harvest the riches of the oceanic ecosystems,” the Prime Minister said.
Modi said India’s 1200 island territories, and its huge Exclusive Economic Zone of 2.4 million sq km makes clear the economic significance of the Indian Ocean.
“For us, it also serves as a strategic bridge with the nations in our immediate and extended maritime neighbourhood. In March last year in Mauritius, I had spelt out our vision for the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean Region is one of my foremost policy priorities. Our approach is evident in our vision of ‘sagar’, which means ocean and stands for Security And Growth for All in the Region,” he said.
He said India would continue to actively pursue and promote its geo-political, strategic and economic interests on the seas, in particular the Indian Ocean.
“To this end, India’s modern and multi-dimensional Navy leads from the front. It is a force for peace and good. A network of growing political and economic maritime partnerships, and strengthening of regional frameworks also helps us pursue our goals,” he said.
Modi recalled that the last time India hosted the International Fleet Review was in the year 2001 in the city of Mumbai. “The world of 2016 is vastly different. Its politics is turbulent, and its challenges complex. At the same time, the oceans are the lifelines of global prosperity. They present us with great economic opportunities to build our nations,” he said.
Chief Justice of India Justice T.S. Thakur, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and Union ministers M. Venkaiah Naidu and Manohar Parrikar were also present on the occasion where the Prime Minister released a photo essay book Maritime Heritage of India. (PTI)

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